Saturday, June 12, 2021

When the State Comes for Your Kids

 From City Journal:

Being a teenager is no picnic. But removing minor children from their parents’ home didn’t used to be a matter of a parent–child “cultural disconnect”—or the young person’s views not “quite align[ing] with their at-home support.” The point was to provide sanctuary for children who would otherwise suffer physical harm or psychological torment.

Today, a teenager can declare an LGBTQ identity that is unsupported in her home and claim that this lack of support puts her mental health at risk. “For our young people experiencing homelessness, over 90 percent of them cite family conflict as a cause of homelessness,” said Suzanne Sullivan, Chief Advancement Officer at YouthCare, who confirmed for me that almost 30 percent of the young people at her shelter identify as LGBTQ+. “We see a lot of young people who have different sexual identities or gender identities that are not supported at home. At YouthCare, we believe that every young person deserves to live their life to the fullest and that includes gender and sexual identity. We are affirming at all of our locations and we don’t feel that it’s acceptable not to be,” she said. YouthCare houses adolescents and young adults ages 12 to 24.

For child services in states that regard “gender affirming care” as the only humane way to treat a troubled teen who’s suddenly decided she’s transgender, the power the state grants them to undermine and even remove parents who object to these treatments is alarming. I asked Sullivan if the teens who come to YouthCare are being abused at home. “There are a lot of individual young people, so each story is unique and each story is different. And there are all different forms of mistreatment and neglect and abandonment. In some cases, kids are kicked out. In some cases, they leave.”

In a state that grants minors aged 13 and up control over their mental health treatment—in a society that increasingly defines “abuse” as any of a variety of limits a parent might place on the gender or sexual exploration of a minor—it is easy enough for a troubled teen to decide that parents are “bad for my mental health.” A credible threat of suicide seems sufficient to earn a child an indefinite right to stay in a youth shelter, where she can hang out with other teens and free herself from meaningful supervision. (I spoke with one parent outside of Washington whose troubled 15-year-old was able to smoke marijuana and develop an alcohol problem at a youth shelter, according to a psychiatric evaluation I reviewed. In Julie’s case, she told me that, while Kayla was at the YouthCare shelter, she was often able to skip Zoom school.)

After Sullivan refused to answer more questions over the phone, I emailed her for comment on the claim by parents that “once their teens choose to stay at one of the shelters, if they are over 13, they are hard to extract.” Sullivan—who many times during our call invited me to email her with questions—wrote back to say that she had no comment.

It isn’t hard to see why a rebellious teen struggling with mental health problems might not want to return home from a youth shelter, even to a loving family. Take Lambert House, a “safe place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth ages 11-22,” according to its website. Activities include “Minecraft,” “Poetry Slam / Art Share,” “Saturday Night Lambert Live!” and “Boys Who Like Boys Group.” That might seem like a fun set of social activities for college students. It’s a little more troubling to consider that, based on a perusal of the activities calendar, many of the events seem to facilitate socializing between 22-year-olds and adolescents as young as 11. I called Lambert House several times for clarification, but never received a call back.

I did, however, speak with Vernadette Broyles, president and founder of Child and Parental Rights Campaign. A Harvard-educated lawyer, Broyles represents parents in child custody, child protective services, and school cases.

I asked Broyles point-blank: Was she seeing the same the pattern I had noticed—namely, loving parents bringing a suicidal, trans-identified teen to the E.R., which ensnares her in a child services network that will not relinquish her? “Yes, that is one of the patterns,” she said. “We’re seeing national patterns. . . . One is the very deliberate and systemic erosion of parental rights.” Broyles believes that this erosion leaves girls, especially, “disproportionately vulnerable.”

According to the parents I’ve talked with, it’s hard to argue with that. One mother I spoke with had had Child Protective Services called on her by her own therapist, after she had explained in therapy why she had chosen not to “affirm” her young trans-identified teen daughter. In that instance, the mom said, the social worker accepted the mother’s explanation that this did not constitute abuse. She counts herself lucky.

What advice does Broyles give parents if Child Protective Services shows up at their door? “Without a warrant or court order, you do not talk to them. You do not let your child talk to them. You should absolutely not let them interview your child with or without you. You don’t let them into your home, you don’t let them into your car. You don’t let them into your hospital room if you’re there in the hospital, you don’t let them into the room with you if you’re in a doctor’s office. You don’t let them in without a warrant or a court order, regardless of what they say. Because once they’re in they will take whatever you say or your child says and potentially use it against you. And then the next thing you know, there’s a possibility that they go to a court, to a judge, ex parte, and get a court order to remove your child. That’s distinctly possible.” (Read more.)


1 comment:

julygirl said...

This exemplifies the age in which we find ourselves today, that of controls over what we think, say and do by forces who believe they can control climate, gender, personal health decisions, food source, entertainment and even our freedom of choice of leadership. Chairman Mao multiplied.